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Tightening the loop on the circular economy: Coupled distributed recycling and manufacturing with recyclebot and RepRap 3-D printing

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Source[edit]

Abstract[edit]

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A promising method of enhancing the circular economy is distributed plastic recycling. In this study plastic waste is upcycled into 3-D printing filament with a recyclebot, which is an open source waste plastic extruder. The recyclebot is combined with an open source self-replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) 3-D printer, to enable post-consumer ABS plastic filament from computer waste to be further upcycled into valuable consumer products pre-designed in the digital commons. The total electrical energy consumption for the combined process is monitored and an economic evaluation is completed. The coupled distributed recycling and manufacturing method for complex products reduces embodied energy by half, while reducing the cost of consumer products to pennies. This economic benefit provides an incentive for consumers to both home recycle and home manufacture, which tightens the loop on the circular economy by eliminating waste associated from transportation and retail. It is clear from the results that waste plastic can be significantly upcycled at the individual level using this commons-based approach. This tightening of the loop of the circular economy benefits the environment and sustainability as well as the economic stability of consumers/prosumers.

Keywords[edit]

Circular economy; Distributed recycling; Energy conservation; Polymer recycling; Sustainable development; distributed manufacturing; life cycle analysis; recycling; recyclebot; 3-D printing; polymer filament

See Also[edit]

RepRapable Recyclebot and the Wild West of Recycling

Recycling Technology[edit]

Distributed Recycling LCA[edit]

Literature Reviews[edit]

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Externals[edit]


  • Cruz, F., Lanza, S., Boudaoud, H., Hoppe, S., & Camargo, M. Polymer Recycling and Additive Manufacturing in an Open Source context: Optimization of processes and methods. [2]
  • Investigating Material Degradation through the Recycling of PLA in Additively Manufactured Parts [3]
  • Mohammed, M.I., Das, A., Gomez-Kervin, E., Wilson, D. and Gibson, I., EcoPrinting: Investigating the use of 100% recycled Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) for Additive Manufacturing. [4]
  • Kariz, M., Sernek, M., Obućina, M. and Kuzman, M.K., 2017. Effect of wood content in FDM filament on properties of 3D printed parts. Materials Today Communications. [5]
  • Kaynak, B., Spoerk, M., Shirole, A., Ziegler, W. and Sapkota, J., 2018. Polypropylene/Cellulose Composites for Material Extrusion Additive Manufacturing. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, p.1800037. [6]
  • O. Martikka et al., "Mechanical Properties of 3D-Printed Wood-Plastic Composites", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 777, pp. 499-507, 2018 [7]
  • Yang, T.C., 2018. Effect of Extrusion Temperature on the Physico-Mechanical Properties of Unidirectional Wood Fiber-Reinforced Polylactic Acid Composite (WFRPC) Components Using Fused Deposition Modeling. Polymers, 10(9), p.976. [8]

In the News[edit]